28 September 2017

Budapest to Bulgaria!

Nigel is cycling through Europe to raise money for our Hardship Fund. Here is the latest update on his travels.

Budapest

"We spent a lot of our time in Budapest trying to fine a map of Bulgaria, a USB device charger and methylated spirits!

We were hoping to go to the open air baths on the Tuesday before we left Budapest but it was expensive and cold and grey so we decided not to, but to find some lunch and a bike shop to get my headset tightened and a couple of other minor bike tweaks before we left town.

By the time we did it was raining and rush hour! It took some time to get onto the bike route out of town and a good while to leave the city. It was raining increasingly hard as we headed out of town. We had a couple of campsites to head for, one of which was a naturist campsite! We ended up cycling in the dark a fair way and the last 2 kilometres were along a terribly rough and muddy track. We arrived after 9pm and were glad the owner let us in and offered us a camping hut with electricity and beds!

Next day dawned fair and we had long, flat, straight roads for 70 miles until we reached the delights of a campsite near Kiskunfélegyháza. It was a delightful place run by a Dutch woman called Anna and an English guy called Jay. It turned out Jay was from Sheffield like me and his family were cutlers as were mine. We had lots to talk about!

The following day was cold and the rain was set to fall all day so we decided to sit it out and try and find help at a bike shop in a nearby town to sort out the gear cable which was about to fail on Jack's bike. Unfortunately the mechanic was on holiday and no help was available.

Jack found a bike shop in Szeged 30 kilometres down the road with good reviews and we booked in there for late morning the next day.

The weather was pleasantly sunny and warm the next day and the tarmac still good, flattish and leading us to a campsite near Makó on the Maso river near the Hungary/Romanian border.

We had a beautiful sunny, warm day to travel more flat tarmac to head over the border into Romania. We had our first border control with gun toting border police checking our passports but being extremely friendly and encouraging. More sun and flat tarmac got us call the away to Timi?oara by teatime. Timi?oara was known to me only because it was the start of the uprising against the Ceaucescus in 1989.

As we cycled along the cycle track into the centre of Timi?oara we were stopped by a smiling and friendly man who asked if we had anywhere to stay. We were immediately suspicious! But he offerred us to sleep in his tourist office in the centre of town. He and his wife met us there and were so generous providing us with food and beer and helpful advice. They left us with the key and Liviu said he would meet us there at 10 the next morning.

We went out and wandered the very grand squares of Timi?oara and caught a Hungarian rock band and food and drink festival before heading for our sleeping bags on the tourist office floors!

The following morning our generous host Liviu arrived and helped us plan our route through Romania and Serbia to Bulgaria and its capital Sofia. He the gave us a cycle tour through Timi?oara leaving us on the edge of town and on our road South. We were so touched and grateful for his hospitality and generosity.

Our following night was not likely to be so well provided for but we found a good spot to wild camp outside the village of Jamu Mare and we cooked our dinner in the light of the setting sun before a sickle moon rose and then dipped very early on the horizon all orange with the last rays of evening sun.

Since then we have had our longest climb of the tour so far taking us high up onto the ridge of the Danube valley. We swept down the other side to be reunited with the river we had last seen 250 miles before on leaving Budapest. We found a modest Pensiune in the resort town of Moldova Veche.

Today we followed the river for over 100 kilometres passing scores of people fishing on the banks for fish for their own pots and to sell, all had at least 4 rods each and sometimes a dozen!

We finished the day in the rain again with a climb and another descent to the banks of the Danube and another Pensiune in the town of Or?ova where we saw the worst housing we have seen so far, Soviet era flats many without glass in the windows some without frames at all. We hoped no one was living in them but suspect some were homes, of a sort, to desperate people. You can understand the nostalgia here amongst quite a large percentage of people for the Soviet era and its certainties where everyone could finish school, have a job, a flat and be creative about how to supplement their meagre rations of food.

In our comfortable Pensiune we were able to taste the Zander everyone was trying to catch. Very good eating it was too!

Tomorrow we head for Iron Gate 1, a bridge over the Danube to Serbia and Bulgaria by nightfall!"

 

You can see more photos of Nigel's journey and sponsor him here.

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